Lake Flashback: Gold in Youbou, hard times with the hatchery, and March Meadows money

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old newspapers with the assistance of the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives so we can jog your memory, give you that nostalgic feeling, or just a chuckle, as we take a look at what was making headlines this week around Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago

It wasn’t the best of news back in early May of 2010 when folks learned the area hatchery was on the verge of closure.

“Fish stocks in the Cowichan Lake water system risk decreasing by this time next year, if the system’s only hatchery folds; something the hatchery’s director said will likely happen. The reason behind the 31-year-old organization’s probable closure in the near future is the age-old problem of underfunding,” said the top story in the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

“We’re the only organization in the whole watershed doing this coho and chum work,” Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society director Art Watson said, confused that the government hasn’t seen the program as important enough to fund more thoroughly. Particularly, he said, since the local tourism industry depends so highly upon sport fishing, which the hatchery stocks a great deal of.

In more positive news, the first week of May, 2010 meant the first outdoor market at Honeymoon Bay.

And for something both positive and negative, the first week of May 10 years ago featured a story about the introduction of a new display at the Kaatza Station Museum. Cool right? Sort of.

“A sometimes unpleasant page of Cowichan Lake area history is to be unveiled during this year’s Heritage Days events, with a new display titled IWA: A Local History opening at the Kaatza Station Museum,” said the story.

“It’s not pleasant at all,” curator Barbara Simkins said during a sneak peek of the display during the community’s National Day of Mourning events, April 28. “This unpleasantness isn’t due to the hard work of the International Woodworkers of America (IWA) and other groups. It’s because of the poor and often dangerous working conditions that necessitated such groups to start up. A number of workplace accidents between 1921 and 1969, often causing fatalities, are highlighted via newspaper clippings posted to the wall, alongside photographs by well-known photographer Wilmer Gold.”

Hey, if this column is meant to do anything, it’s to help us remember our history — good news and otherwise.

20 years ago

“Gold exploration continues” was a top headline on the front page of the May 10, 1995 Lake News. It was kind of an exciting time.

“Work is continuing on a gold find made in 1993 north of Youbou near Wardroper Creek, Barry Gill, representing Ambra Royalty Inc, of Vancouver has announced. The site is the Marathon gold property in the Sicker volcanic belt, he said. Marathon I and II properties abut one another and are about 600 acres each, with 10 claims apiece.

“He said that assays in 1993 showed gold recovery up to 16.425 ounces a ton. Phase two of the investigative work will include further prospecting, bulldozing and stripping of soil and gravel to outline the gold vein. Phase three will consist of more trenching, drilling and blasting and further prospecting. The exploration program is being carried out by Ruza Resources.”

Well, this was news to me.

Also covered in the same Lake News edition was the May 8 event honouring veterans.

“Wilma Rowbottom, president of the Royal Canadian Legion branch 210 unveiled a plaque Monday during V-E Day ceremonies. The plaque commemorates the dead of World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. It has been set into the base of the cenotaph,” where it remains today.

40 years ago

“A crucial meeting which could affect the long-term economy of the Cowichan Lake area is scheduled here this week,” was the lead of the top story in the May 7, 1980 Lake News. It was topped by the headline “Industrial park vital to local economy, group declares.”

The story continued: “An aggressive group of small loggers will meet with directors of the British Columbia Development Corporation Thursday, May 8, in an attempt to have a much-mooted industrial development park get off the ground. Development of an announced Meade Creek Industrial Park has been bogged down in various bureaucratic quagmires, including at the economic Development Commission, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the BCDC and Western Forest Industries, said the owners of the property.

“WFI agreed more than a year ago to make several acres available on a lease basis for use as such a park. However negotiations among the various agencies involved and the company have been bogged down — but nobody knows exactly why.”

Also on thin ice 40 years ago, the local golf club appealed to the public for help.

“Non-golfing residents of Lake Cowichan will be asked May 12 if they will help the March Meadows Golf Club over a financial hurdle. The club shareholders decided at a meeting May 4 to become financially involved themselves in buying the golf course and its adjoining property when their lease is up and the property becomes available for sale this fall, but club president Les Peake said Monday that they can’t do it alone.”

The story ended up on a positive, as we know, as the course is still available for play.

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